Ultra-short course racing will always put a premium on winning the start - and never more so than at the Crewsaver RS Elite Stadium Cup this year when adverse tide upwind also made winning the pin and the dash for the shore the way only to go.
With near perfect breeze and blue skies, conditions couldn't have been much better after the day's Cowes Week racing was over. The format followed previous editions at Cowes last year and on lay day at Antigua Sailing Week earlier this year. Each race lasted just 15 minutes, despite packing in three rounds of a windward / leeward course just metres from the shore - with the top two boats from two knock-out heats going through to a four boat final. The whole event took place within an hour, with live commentary on Cowes Radio.
The start of the Heat 1 saw competitors slow to get their heads around the short line, rapid fire start sequence and importance of pin end advantage over line bias. E'Tu sailed by past RS Elite Champion Donald McClean made the best of it to win from the Proctor team in Wombat.
By heat 2 the start line battle was on. Derek Priestley sailing Kiss looked to have it nailed, but while spectators thought he could push up the fleet and hold back from the line against the tide the team lost their bottle with 10 seconds to go and bailed out, gybing around to take sterns on port – too much of a deficit to regain...
In the final Jono Brown, another ex RS Elite champion, in Aeolus pulled off a perfect pin end start with the other three boats perfectly stacked up above him a metre back from the line. Putting the bow down Aeolus accelerated the fastest and was never challenged. The race for second was a different story, however, with Mark Allerston's Escapade team and E'Tu coming into the leeward mark nose to tail with a momentarily hot dispute over room. Escapade stood their ground forcing E'Tu to spin around before the mark, dropping them back to last place behind Wombat.
So, Jono, Lyn and David Brown added the 2013 Stadium Cup title to their list of RS Elite victories, walking away with the trophy and three of the fantastic new Crewsaver Ergofit lifejackets – surely among the most comfortable items of high quality safety gear you'll ever wear.
You can find out more about the Stadium Cup on the RS Elite Class website www.RSElite.org with video footage coming soon. Full details of Crewsaver's latest range are at www.Crewsaver.co.uk
Next stop for the RS Elite Class is the Brewin Dolphin sponsored National Championships, this year hosted by the Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough, home of the largest RS Elite fleet.